By Kristine Whitnable

Calling Students to Whole Life Conversion

Chris Nichols, InterVarsity’s regional director for New England, is passionate about advancing the gospel and calling students to whole life conversions. He does not want students to simply respond to a well-choreographed appeal to raise their hands and accept Jesus into their lives. Chris wants students to know that, as Christians, their purpose is to glorify Jesus, and their calling is to sacrifice their lives to advance his kingdom.

Chris was blessed with a strong Christian upbringing that gave him a foundation in his faith. As a student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, in 1983-1987, he studied agronomy and started an InterVarsity chapter on campus. He learned to study Scriptures deeply, applying God’s Word to all aspects of his life. Chris also attended Urbana and made a commitment to serve the gospel full time overseas. As part of that decision, Chris spent the summer after graduation from college on an agricultural mission in Guatemala. As the weeks wore on, he found himself bored with the work and in the end decided that agricultural ministry was not where he should be, a decision supported by the directors of the program.

Having decided what God was not asking him to do, Chris moved in a new direction and accepted a position as InterVarsity campus staff. In his current position of regional director, Chris desires that students and faculty know Jesus, being transformed and healed. Chris wants these people to know how they are gifted and where they can declare God’s justice to a needy world.

Chris served on InterVarsity staff in San Diego from 1987-2004. During that time, he developed a reconciliation ministry with Roman Catholics that exemplified Chris’s idea of living out the gospel. First, he was careful to know that this was a ministry that God was calling him to and not just something that needed to be done. Second, Chris brought a deep understanding of history and theology to this particular task. God will equip his minister as needed for the work. Third, Chris sought out like-minded people as partners.

Reconciliation is neither an easy task, nor can it be based on a simplistic understanding of the position of the other person. But God is able to break down barriers and bring his peace. An InterVarsity chapter is thriving at the University of San Diego, a school affiliated with the Catholic Church.

Since 2004, Chris has been the regional director in New England. In this capacity he encourages staff to see where their gifts mesh with the vision of InterVarsity, and then to use those gifts to take the gospel to people on campus who may not have heard the good news. The results of this encouragement can be seen in the growth of the new chapter at Northeastern University in Boston. In its first year the chapter saw two students come to Christ, and twenty students regularly attend the large group meeting.

When God closed the door for Chris to be an agronomist missionary, he knew that the gifts he had given Chris would be well used to grow students in their faith in Jesus Christ.